Sarcoma Story: Alyssa Jeske Dobson

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Type of Sarcoma: Epithelioid Sarcoma
Date of Diagnosis: 2000

The newspaper headline said, “ Alta School mourns the loss of science teacher.”

Just a few words on paper some may say, but to those of us who knew and loved Alyssa Jeske Dobson, it was anything but. Alyssa had epithelioid sarcoma and after an eight-year battle, she died at the age of 28 on March 17, 2008. To write a short biography of her life seems impossible because she accomplished so much and had a deep lasting impact on so many.

Alyssa Grae Jeske was born on May 31, 1979, in New Ulm, MN to loving parents Cherry and Dennis Jeske. Alyssa was a fun-loving adorable child, curly-haired (which she lost several times during the sarcoma treatments), tall, gangly, curious to the max. (What’s this red stuff in mom’s purse? What’s this goo? Should we put it on our faces, cousin Angie? Oops! I think we’re in trouble!) Alyssa loved music and dance, playing piano, saxophone, tuba (even after losing her arm to the sarcoma) and delighting everyone with her Norwegian folk dances and appearances in every Syttende Mai parade and celebration. Even as a grown-up, she loved to perform and as a teacher dressed up once as a cow in a homecoming skit. She was always busy with animals like cats, dogs, horses, chickens. She was also busy trying to keep younger brother Cameron in line.

Alyssa went to school, of course…and lots of it! First it was high school; then her BA from South Dakota State University in 2002; then her Masters Degree in Education at Minnesota State University in Mankato in 2006. All of this while going through painful, exhausting, invasive treatments (limb profusion, arm amputation) at several places including the University of Minnesota and the MD Anderson Cancer Clinic in Houston, Texas . But her passion was for teaching and she became a high school science teacher. She had a rigorous teaching schedule—biology, chemistry, physics, bio-technology, health sciences and forensics. Her school principal said, “Her knowledge was phenomenal. She was truly an inspiration to everyone here.”

Alyssa married the man of her dreams, Luke Dobson, on January 24, 2004 at First United Methodist Church in New Ulm, MN. He was another great supporter of Alyssa through difficult times. Towards the end when she was getting weak, he’d carry her loaded-down school bags up three flights of stairs at school. In the end at the funeral he sang, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll—Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.” Alyssa Dobson had a deep faith; she never complained; she tried everything possible to beat this disease and throughout it all could truly say, “It is well with my soul.”

Alyssa would love the idea of her family and friends supporting the Rein in Sarcoma Fund and activities. She was always thinking of others before herself and would whole-heartedly support research to stop this disease so others wouldn’t have to suffer from it.

Cherry and Denis Jeske have established a RIS Named Fund in Alyssa’s name. 

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